Down south, a B-school has put up kiosks at an airport to promote itself. Another B-school is flaunting its international tie-ups to attract students.
As the admission season begins at B-schools this year, management institutes resort to such methods of promoting themselves as they fear they may not be able to fill the seats this time, too.
While industry players expect one-third or over 1,00,000 management seats to go vacant this year, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) says the numbers may not be as high. The country has nearly 4,000 B-schools with 3,50,000 seats.
“There are apprehensions that nearly 1,00,00 seats will go vacant this year. In tier-2 and tier-3 B-schools, the vacancy is nearly 50 per cent. In Uttar Pradesh alone, for 24,000 seats, only 12,000 students have appeared for the entrance examination. The situation is quite grim,” said H Chaturvedi, director, Birla Institute of Management and Technology, Noida.
S S Mantha, chairman, AICTE, does not agree. “If you look at the trend of vacant seats in the last two-three years, there is a marginal difference. Two years ago it was 15 per cent and last year it was around 17 per cent. This year, we think, it will be around 18 per cent. There is a general recession this year. We see a definite change next year.”
The fears of B-schools are not unfounded. In the academic year 2010-11, in Maharashtra, the number of vacant seats in engineering and management was 30,000 and 20,000, respectively. This forced the state government to write to AICTE to not give approval for setting up new colleges offering such courses. Last year, Maharashtra had 32,000 vacant seats in engineering and 16,000 vacant seats in management.
Despite this, this year Maharashtra will have 30,000 more engineering seats and 3,000 more management seats with the AICTE approving 17 new institutes in the state, including 11 engineering and four management institutes. Besides, existing institutes have also been allowed to increase the number of seats.
Mantha says as a regulator he cannot stop institutes from coming up. It will be a good idea for the not-so-good B-schools to collaborate with renowned B-schools in the country or with international B-schools.
Besides, looking at small and medium enterprises (SMEs) is an option. “It will be a good idea to collaborate with the SMEs,” said an industry expert.
Experts have been arguing that B-schools need to collaborate with industries to survive – not only to have industry participation for guest and special lectures but also for internship and placement of management students.
Many B-schools are not located in and around cities. Hence, because of lack of industries and industrial development happening around them, the placement process is never successful. This is one of the reasons why there are few takers for management seats in these institutes.
Mantha says if existing B-schools want to get to rural areas AICTE will go all out to help them. Management schools providing good education also has to see that students get opportunity to interact with people in industries.
Last year, citing low admission rates, 138 institutes across the country shut shop. These include 15 engineering, 65 management and 29 MCA institutes, across Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
“Ultimately, it is the question of value proposition. B-schools will have to look at the content they are providing,” says Mantha.